November 8, 2015; New York Times Blogs, “ArtsBeat”
One wonders how the Brooklyn Museum, set in the midst of an area in the borough being actively gentrified, did not anticipate objections to their renting the museum as a site to the 6th Annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit, which promises to include more than 600 “top retail, condo, multifamily and office players in the Brooklyn market,” all aiming to shape Brooklyn “into a place to live, work and play,” addressing such questions as, “What opportunities for value-add exist in the seemingly picked-over areas?”
Local artists have objected to the rental of space which, they say in a change.org petition, flies in the face of the museum’s mission to “act as a bridge between the rich artistic heritage of world cultures…to serve its diverse public as a dynamic, innovative, and welcoming center for learning through the visual arts.”
And speaking of visual arts, here is a copy of the protest leaflet. It may be a little bit of an overused metaphor, but it has the benefit of being easily understood.
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The museum appears to admit that the protestors have a point. Museum director Anne Pasternak responded:
On Tuesday, we learned that artists, community organizers and our neighbors were upset that the conference is happening at our museum and had banded together to express their concerns about affordable housing and work spaces and protest the event. Of course we wanted to be responsive, and I want to let you know what we have done.
What’s been done includes an examination of the museum’s policies for renting space to third parties. She also offered to hold a separate gathering there on the subject of affordable housing and workspaces.
These steps are unlikely to stop the protest, which is scheduled for the morning of November 17th when the conference is in session.—Ruth McCambridge